The News Matrix: Wednesday 31 August 2011

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The Independent Online

Doorstep donations little benefit to needy

Door-to-door charity bag collections dupe generous householders by not revealing that only small profits from the selling on of goods reach the charities involved, the British Heart Foundation says. The service is operated by commercial firms who donate only part of the profits. MORE

Tear gas distributed to West Bank settlers

Days before the Palestinians go to the UN General Assembly to demand statehood, reports suggest that the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) is arming settlers in the West Bank with tear gas and grenades to defend themselves during the demonstrations that are expected. MORE

July is the deadliest month for US troops

July was the deadliest month for US troops in Afghanistan since the start of the war in 2001. Sixty-six soldiers died, compared to the 65 killed in July 2010. President Obama has ordered 10,000 US troops to leave this year and wants 23,000 more to leave by the summer of 2012. MORE

Court hears hacking charges against teens

The case of two teenagers accused of hacking into websites including that of the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency was heard at Southwark Crown Court yesterday. Jake Davis, 18, and Ryan Cleary, 19, were not at court but will appear to plea and for case management on 27 January.

Prosecutors receive files on Huhne

Prosecutors have received files on claims that the Cabinet minister Chris Huhne tried to dodge a speeding penalty after further investigations by the Essex Police. The case relates to a 2003 speeding infraction.

Government land to be freed for building

Government-owned land “twice the size of Leicester” is to be released, and planning laws relaxed, in order to tackle the housing shortage, Grant Shapps, the Housing minister, has announced. Mr Shapps admitted that not enough houses had been built, but claimed that this could be offset by changes to the planning laws and releasing Governmentowned land for building.

Malema supporters clash with police

A demonstration outside a disciplinary hearing for Julius Malema, the African National Congress’ youth league leader, turned violent yesterday, with police turning water cannon on protesters. The ANC leadership has sought to check Mr Malema’s growing influence. MORE

Fast ferry switches to seasonal service

The fast-ferry service between Ireland and Britain is being suspended from next month. Stena Line is stopping the service from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead from 13 September to save money. Stena said the highspeed craft would now operate as a seasonal service only.

Strauss-Kahn says goodbye to IMF staff

Dominique Strauss-Kahn bade farewell to staff at the International Monetary Fund in Washington after meeting with his successor, Christine Lagarde, before returning to France, less than a week after New York prosecutors dropped charges relating to an alleged sexual attack. MORE

Control-room staff stage 24-hour strike

Police officers covered striking control-room staff in Nottinghamshire as they went on strike yesterday. Hundreds of PCSOs, call handlers and custody officers carried out a 24-hour walkout over job cuts. Another stoppage is planned for Friday.

Final repatriation for Wootton Bassett

Wootton Bassett will see its final repatriation ceremony tonight after four years of being synonymous with the death of British servicemen and women. Repatriations will move from RAF Lyneham to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. MORE

Dolphins engage in some fishy business

Dolphins off western Australia have been seen holding a conch shell in their beaks and using it to shake fish into their mouths. Researchers at Murdoch University in Perth were unsure what they were seeing when they first photographed the fishy activity four years ago in 2007.

Fans’ favourite Harry Potter character

Fans may have cheered the three good wizards – Hermione, Harry and Ron – to victory, but it’s the other characters who are the favourites. A poll with more than 70,000 votes by the publisher, Bloomsbury, found Severus Snape was the favourite character; Hermione was second.

Queen advertises for Balmoral gardener

A lucky green-fingered worker could be picked for a job fit for a king. The Queen’s estate in Scotland is advertising for a head gardener at Balmoral. The advert on the castle’s website promises “an attractive remuneration package, including accommodation and other benefits”.

Scabby bald chick arrives in Devon

A second marabou stork has been hatched in Britain under a breeding programme at Devon’s Paignton Zoo. Said to be the “world’s ugliest bird”, the chick has a bald, pink, scabby head and a huge bill.

Town mints own money in cuts protest

A small town in central Italy is trying to go independent and mint its own money in protest at government austerity cuts. Filettino, set in rugged hill country 65 miles east of Rome, is rebelling against a proposal to merge the governments of towns with fewer than 1,000 inhabitants to save money.

99 problems and a Flake ain’t one

Increased costs, tougher bureaucracy and a lack of pocket money are causing the decline of the ice cream van. Van drivers have suffered another miserably cold summer and warn that the traditional practice of buying a “99” cornet may have come to an end. MORE

Bess, 115, is world’s oldest person

Bess Cooper, from Monroe, Georgia, has been confirmed as the world’s oldest person after celebrating her 115th birthday. Ms Cooper married in 1924 and has more than a dozen great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. She puts her longevity partly down to “minding my own business”.

Coral clue to pill to prevent sunburn

A pill that prevents sunburn could be developed within five years, scientists report today. Researchers have discovered that sea coral shields itself against UV rays. They believe this could help them find a compound which they can reproduce in the lab to protect skin and eyes from the sun.